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Old 11-01-2013, 07:06 PM   #81
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Stating that intellectuals are rooted exclusively in the liberal arts would be the equivalent of stating that likes of MLK and W.E. Du Bois were somehow "elitists". That label hardly seems appropriate for individuals who struggled and sacrificed for the causes of equality and social justice. William F. Buckley on the other hand......
Careful, please. Let's not start pretending specific politics and ideology are associated with "academic elitism."
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:06 AM   #82
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No statistics here but I see quite a few young people (friends of my daughter, nieces and nephews) and while they tend to focus on slightly more practical majors than my generation did they read widely. Bottom line they seem as well rounded as my cohort. Lets face it, if you are interested in the humanities the great works are freely accessible - you don't need to spend a fortune on a literature degree to study them. Get your degree in something practical and mix in the great books to taste.
I also have been pretty impressed with Millennial I've meet. I think the internet has just increase general knowledge of across the board. Coming to age in a war and then financial crisis has given the Millennial s a level of serious not seen since the greatest generation.

A pool contractors was telling the story how he had a sign at a pool that the pool depth is 52" and evidently lots of young people had trouble figuring how many feet 52". He was lamenting that lots of kids Googled it. If you type "how many feet is 52 inches" into Google, the correct answer is instantly displayed,same thing as "where is New Mexico" a map is displayed before you finishing typing.

Anyway in this information age, how much knowledge to we really need people to store in their brains as long as folks know how to look for it?

If I had been a trust fund baby, I would have been a history major, instead of an engineer. But as Don says I don't need to go to college to study literature, art or history there is a world of books. Not to mention Ken Burns, many HBO special and history channel shows let you learn about history (or many other subjects) in an even more compelling fashion.

I know college is suppose teach you how to think critically,and how to learn. I am not sure that it ever did for most of us. I think we picked up these skills other places. I did learn some important skills in math and science in school and I think they served me well.
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:05 AM   #83
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I also have been pretty impressed with Millennial I've meet. I think the internet has just increase general knowledge of across the board. Coming to age in a war and then financial crisis has given the Millennial s a level of serious not seen since the greatest generation. A pool contractors was telling the story how he had a sign at a pool that the pool depth is 52" and evidently lots of young people had trouble figuring how many feet 52". He was lamenting that lots of kids Googled it. If you type "how many feet is 52 inches" into Google, the correct answer is instantly displayed,same thing as "where is New Mexico" a map is displayed before you finishing typing. Anyway in this information age, how much knowledge to we really need people to store in their brains as long as folks know how to look for it? If I had been a trust fund baby, I would have been a history major, instead of an engineer. But as Don says I don't need to go to college to study literature, art or history there is a world of books. Not to mention Ken Burns, many HBO special and history channel shows let you learn about history (or many other subjects) in an even more compelling fashion. I know college is suppose teach you how to think critically,and how to learn. I am not sure that it ever did for most of us. I think we picked up these skills other places. I did learn some important skills in math and science in school and I think they served me well.
+1000

Very well said, clifp. IMHO the most important thing to learn during one's formal education is how to learn. The Information Age makes this more true than it has ever been. If rote learning once had a role, it is now greatly diminished. I share your personal experience. Most of my knowledge of the fundamental concepts of math, science, written communication skills, and above all, curiosity about the world, I learnt in primary and secondary school, though I got started with books sitting on my mother's or father's knee.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:02 PM   #84
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Anyway in this information age, how much knowledge to we really need people to store in their brains as long as folks know how to look for it?
I've been wondering about that myself for some years and concluded that many times (not all) I don't need to memorize a lot. All I need to know is where to find it.

So while we do use a GPS when going somewhere different, and it's great, I haven't forgotten how to read a paper map and we carry one with us.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:24 PM   #85
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I've been wondering about that myself for some years and concluded that many times (not all) I don't need to memorize a lot. All I need to know is where to find it.

So while we do use a GPS when going somewhere different, and it's great, I haven't forgotten how to read a paper map and we carry one with us.
Interesting. I love GPS and use it all the time for navigating unfamiliar locations. But I also like paper maps and find it much easier to orient myself on a wider map "display" than is found on a GPS device or phone. I frequently print out Google maps of areas I will be traveling in so I can orient myslef and even find my way in case my electronics fail me.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:48 PM   #86
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Interesting. I love GPS and use it all the time for navigating unfamiliar locations. But I also like paper maps and find it much easier to orient myself on a wider map "display" than is found on a GPS device or phone. I frequently print out Google maps of areas I will be traveling in so I can orient myslef and even find my way in case my electronics fail me.
Me too. I don't own any paper maps anymore, but when I am going to an unfamiliar area I get familiar with the larger area by looking online using Google Maps or Mapquest before I go. Then when I'm there and I am entering locations in GPS, I have some sense of where I'm going and where N-S-E-W are. And since I know my GPS "she" will RECALCULATE when/if I make a mistake, I don't worry about getting lost anymore, even in a completely new area.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:53 PM   #87
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Me too. I don't own any paper maps anymore, but when I am going to an unfamiliar area I get familiar with the larger area by looking online using Google Maps or Mapquest before I go. Then when I'm there and I am entering locations in GPS, I have some sense of where I'm going and where N-S-E-W are. And since I know my GPS "she" will RECALCULATE when/if I make a mistake, I don't worry about getting lost anymore, even in a completely new area.
Of course one needs to check if the GPS routes one onto a dirt road as the canadian couple that got stuck in Rowland,NV ( a ghost town or almost one) 50 miles from the nearest paved road. He went off to get help and was never found, she was discoved in bad shape by someone on an atv. (The area is outside cell phone coverage). You also read about trucks in the UK being routed to underpasses in which they hit the bridge (also happens in the US). One has to know not to trust gps without verifying the route.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:57 PM   #88
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+1000

Very well said, clifp. IMHO the most important thing to learn during one's formal education is how to learn. The Information Age makes this more true than it has ever been. If rote learning once had a role, it is now greatly diminished. I share your personal experience. Most of my knowledge of the fundamental concepts of math, science, written communication skills, and above all, curiosity about the world, I learnt in primary and secondary school, though I got started with books sitting on my mother's or father's knee.
I agree completely. I started out working in Geophysics and migrated over to computers during my career. (My masters was in Geophysics). I did not attend a lot of courses in CS during work, but primarly would buy textbooks and read them.
If the meme about changing careers several time during a working life that has been cited in the media is true, then learning how to teach oneself without the benfit of spoon feeding from a teacher is the most valuable skill one can get. Note that in one sense this is pretty much the definition of a PhD program, as sooner or later one runs out of nice structured books and has to start with the Journals.
However on the general subject I believe that no matter what one majors in one can not have to much math or statistics, since with the coming of the computer the world is becoming more and more digital.
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:03 PM   #89
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I don't own any paper maps anymore . . .
Poor AAA. I remember when we'd go to their office to get maps, Tourbooks, and a TripTik before our family vacations. The TripTiks had nice info and a routemap, the Tourbooks did an okay job of pointing out the interesting things to see and rating the hotels (with a bit of bias toward those who bought ads, I'm sure). Now we can get much of this online and with our GPS/smart phone in the car.
Of course the other big reason to join AAA was roadside service. But now with a cell phone most often we can reach a family member or call a tow truck directly. And cars just break down a lot less than they used to.
Talk about a company that got badly hit from all sides by technology . . .
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:16 PM   #90
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Of course one needs to check if the GPS routes one onto a dirt road as the canadian couple that got stuck in Rowland,NV ( a ghost town or almost one) 50 miles from the nearest paved road. He went off to get help and was never found, she was discoved in bad shape by someone on an atv. (The area is outside cell phone coverage). You also read about trucks in the UK being routed to underpasses in which they hit the bridge (also happens in the US). One has to know not to trust gps without verifying the route.
Actually his body was found about a year and a half later.

Body of missing B.C. man Albert Chretien found in Nevada - British Columbia - CBC News

GPS is a great tool but I've had a few instances in which it was clearly misleading (in rural Oregon it led me up a dirt road to a very down and out trailer park), in Vancouver (it took me round in circles), in Calgary (a major one year old hospital was completely absent), and outside my own home (it thinks the road ends one block away). You still need to follow your common sense.
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:51 PM   #91
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Interest in the Humanities Decline . Maybe one of you humanities mavens could tell me why this should not be written as "Interest in the humanities declines"?

It seems to me that interest is the subject, and declines as a verb should be matched to that singular "interest", rather than the plural humanities.

But as a science student I am not confident that I am not missing some aspect of this structure.

Ha
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Old 11-02-2013, 04:49 PM   #92
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Perhaps it could also be parsed as

"Interest in the Humanities' Decline"
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Old 11-02-2013, 05:10 PM   #93
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Interest in the Humanities Decline . Maybe one of you humanities mavens could tell me why this should not be written as "Interest in the humanities declines"? It seems to me that interest is the subject, and declines as a verb should be matched to that singular "interest", rather than the plural humanities. But as a science student I am not confident that I am not missing some aspect of this structure. Ha
I believe you are correct Ha. "In the Humanities" is a prepositional phrase.

As for google and its usefulness, one must still have some curiosity, and a working BS detector, because for all the info at our fingertips, an alarming number of people I know seem willing to eat whatever they're fed...
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Old 11-02-2013, 05:33 PM   #94
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Should have been "Decline in Interest in the Humanities" but was too late to change..


Yeah... I did notice.
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Old 11-02-2013, 05:54 PM   #95
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Thanks all.

Ha
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:35 PM   #96
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Perhaps I can add some perspective, since I hold an M.A. I have to admit that if my earlier primary and secondary schooling had provided a more well-rounded education in the humanities, especially the higher arts of philosophy and religion, then I probably wouldn't have had the bug to explore (and ultimately major in) those topics while in college.

I think for many, including myself, the lack of attention to the arts in public schools engenders a curiosity about them during the college years. It was not the greatest career choice, I'll admit, but it was not entirely worthless.

My wife and I have decided that we will homeschool our children, and part of the reason for that is to provide them with a more well rounded education than either of us received. I don't want my children to feel like they too missed out on a whole collection of human inquiry like I did. They'll get their education in the humanities in their early schooling, and so maybe they will choose to apply themselves to a more useful degree in college and keep up with their interest in the liberal arts on their own.
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Old 11-02-2013, 09:08 PM   #97
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My former wife and I homeschooled both our sons, until they went off to college at about age16. Kids have to get out of the den by 16 or things go funny.

Both of them have CS educations, and very successful careers. Both of them read widely, and one has written some game scenarios which were published.

Our Ivy League liberal education is patterned after Oxford and Cambridge, which took classically educated young men (and now of course women) and made them even more erudite. But many or these people had no real need to work; they were from the landed gentry. Perhaps they became Dons. In any case, it is entirely outdated and ridiculous for the average bright student today who must make a living and understand today's realities. Back in mid-century the British scientist and novelist C.P Snow introduced the idea of two cultures, the scientific and the old liberal education. He showed that while many scientists could and did understand the humanities, the reverse was rarely true. It is particularly crazy to allow public funding and government backed loans for study in these fields which have nothing to do with economic progress, and frequently are associated with harebrained ideas like Marxism. It wasn't in physics or chemistry departments back in the 60s where most of the fans of Mao and Che Guevara were found.

History, literature are wonderful for those who have the interest, on their own time. In retirement, I am one of these. If I feel ever the need for some deconstructionist criticism I know where to find it.

Back in the day, the main use fro humanities study was in chatting up women. "Oh, I adore Botticelli's Venus!" I used to invite girls to accompany me on one of my frequent trips to the Gardner Museum in Back Bay. (I went frequently, but mostly to make a cultured impression on girls.) I did gradually learn quite a bit about painting, and also at the MFA where I found out that I really loved German Expressionism.

Ha
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:10 PM   #98
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A big +1 to what clifp posted earlier, it captured much of what I would have wanted to say.

And the following really rang the bell for me!

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... Back in mid-century the British scientist and novelist C.P Snow introduced the idea of two cultures, the scientific and the old liberal education. He showed that while many scientists could and did understand the humanities, the reverse was rarely true. ....

Ha
It is particularly frustrating to me that so many people w/o a technical background are pushing for things (with their voice and their vote) because they 'feel good' to them, but the science doesn't back it up.

Maybe their Humanities studies taught them to 'care' and be passionate about their beliefs, but they often don't know what it takes to actually do what is needed to bring about positive change. And often what they do push for is counter-productive.

I'm not sure how you'd go about measuring it, but I'd not be surprised if my engineering/architecture/technical friends ranked higher on a measure of 'humanities awareness' than those with a more 'liberal' education. As has been mentioned, much of this can be obtained outside the classroom, and those people are doing it because they have a desire for it, not because of a requirement.

-ERD50
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:16 PM   #99
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Back in the day, the main use fro humanities study was in chatting up women. "Oh, I adore Botticelli's Venus!" I used to invite girls to accompany me on one of my frequent trips to the Gardner Museum in Back Bay. (I went frequently, but mostly to make a cultured impression on girls.) I did gradually learn quite a bit about painting, and also at the MFA where I found out that I really loved German Expressionism.

Ha
No wonder I never had a lot of girlfriends in college! I guess asking them to help me with thermodynamics or calculus or to go to an engineering exhibit never got there interest.
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Old 11-04-2013, 01:36 PM   #100
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A friend told me yesterday that her college daughter is taking a course called "Human Geography". After discussing the content, friend and daughter agreed it is the same course that used to be called "Humanities". So maybe still there, but just called something different now.
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